At the Tokyo Olympics, there were 142 openly LGBT athletes — a record number, in fact, although Laurel Hubbard grabbed most of the headlines at the time as the first transgender athlete in the history of the Olympic Games.
Unfortunately, there will be no transgender athletes in Beijing, but more than 30 gay and non-binary athletes will be participating. Of course, this number cannot be compared to the number of LGBT+ athletes at the Summer Olympics, but if you go to the Winter Games in PyeongChang, you will see twice as many athletes this time.
Professional athletes from various sports disciplines including Canada, USA, England, France, Sweden and Czech Republic are expected to participate in the upcoming Games. Since Beijing’s citizens are known to dislike LGBTQ+ crowds, it is still unlikely that they will all feel one hundred percent safe and welcome. Although homosexuality has been decriminalized in China since 1997 and not considered a mental illness since 2001, it still does not treat members of the LGBTQ+ community well.
Here are just a few of the amazing athletes competing in Beijing:
1. Bruce Mowat is the reigning world champion in curling mixed doubles. In 2021, he represented Scotland and is now in the British side.
2. Irene West is one of the world’s most decorated speed skaters. The 35-year-old Dutchwoman’s medal collection lists 11 medals (including 5 gold) at the Olympic Games. Irene officially came out as bisexual in 2009, and in 2017 registered a relationship with Laetitia de Jong, who, coincidentally, is also a speed skater.
3. Belle Brokhoff — The Beijing Olympics will be the debut for the 27-year-old 2021 snowboardcross world champion, but the Australian has every chance of taking the gold medal. Broekhoff announced her orientation to the public in 2013 and continues to fight for equality for the LGBTQ+ community.
4. Guillaume Cizeron is an openly gay 27-year-old French figure skater. In 2020, Cicero posted a photo with his partner on Instagram, neatly timed to support the publication of the International Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia.
5. Andrew Placer’s first openly gay skeleton slider. So far, he hasn’t shown any great results, but is still doing his best. Maybe it’s because she’s been searching for her perfect sport for so long, dipping her toes in decathlon, cheerleading and bobsleigh. Blazer revealed his orientation last year, though he had hinted at it on Instagram long before.
6. Timothy LeDuc (They/Them) — First non-binary skater to play for Team USA and pair skate with Ashley Kane-Gribble. Many advised the LeDucs not to reveal their gender identity, but they took a chance and opened up to the world. So far so good!
7. Filippo Ambrosini is Italy’s secret weapon in figure skating. Maybe he’s not as decorated as some of the other athletes here, but even before the 2022 Olympics, Filippo has won several titles (if not the most prestigious) with his beautiful skating partner, Rebecca Gilardi.
8. Brian Jenner is a talented ice hockey player from Canada. It’s like their national sport, right? So it is no surprise that his team has won this tournament in the past. Brian has won a polished gold medal at the 2014 Olympics and a silver medal since 2018.
9. Daniela Iraschko-Stolz loves ski jumping and is ready to make Austria proud at the 2022 Beijing Olympics. She had already won a silver medal in PyeongChang and this time all she needed was that gold! Daniela married her husband in 2013 and has been an active advocate for LGBTQ+ rights ever since.